Bay Area boy meets bone marrow donor who helped save his life

By Katie Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, March 18, 2017, 4:24 PM EDT

It was a reunion eight years in the making.

This weekend, 11-year-old Nicholas Kalojiannis met the woman who helped save his life.

  • Nicholas Kalojiannis, 11, got to meet the woman helped save his life
  • Susan Burton donated bone marrow that matched to Kalojiannis
  • Kalojiannis family hope their story inspires others to consider bone marrow donation

The Hillsborough County boy has spent the majority of his life battling an extremely rare condition.

"Our world went from literally him being or a normal infant to having a cold to years of trying to figure out answers," mom, Alicia Kalojiannis said.

Doctors recently determined that Nicholas has a mutation within his immune system.

"His immune system doesn't have a memory so once the immune system revs up it doesn't come down so it attacks and ravages his whole body,” Kalojiannis said.


Nicholas Kalojiannis has spent the majority of his life battling an extremely rare condition.

Nicholas’s mom, Alicia said his body was so worn down, he needed a bone marrow transplant. She and her husband weren’t a match so they joined a registry and ended up finding the perfect fit more than a thousand miles away in New Hampshire. Susan Burton was able to give the boy a second chance.

"I feel really blessed to have been able to be even the small part of it that I was and the way they've welcomed me to their family is such an amazing thing," Burton said.

Through text messages, social media, playing cards, and Pokemon, Susan and Nicholas have formed an unbreakable bond that the Kalojiannis family is forever grateful for.

"You can't, you can never repay someone for the gift of life. People just don't know enough about be the match and bone marrow donation and how us as humans can be better humans by helping others," Alicia Kalojiannis said.

Nicholas’s journey is far from over. He still battles a number of illnesses including diabetes, chronic malabsorption of the gut, growth hormone deficiency, thyroid problems, and chronic lung infections.

But because of Burton’s donation, he is able to lead a normal life.

Burton and the Kalojiannis family hope their story inspires others to consider bone marrow donation.

For more information, visit www.bethematch.org.